I had high hopes for The Girl Who Was Taken. The blurb reads like a tantalizing mystery. Two girls disappear. One returns. One doesn't.
Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.
A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It’s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue—that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.
But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.
This book reminded me of Gillian Flynn's Dark Places in so many ways. (If you've read both books and want to talk spoilers, I'd LOVE to chat!) The best part of reading mysteries/thrillers is solving the puzzle of an intriguing plot. Every time I thought I knew where this was going, the story veered down a path so hidden by shadows I would have never seen it. In some ways that's good, in some ways, it was beyond frustrating.
I am not familiar with this author but the writing style kept me from fully engaging with the characters. As in Gillian Flynn's books, they aren't meant to be likable and I can handle that but I am so over the unreliable narrator trope. Can we just agree for everyone to stop trying to write the next Gone Girl or Girl on the Train or anything else that's going to have GIRL in the title and just give us some plots that twist and surprise but play fair? Okay, rant over.
The overly-detailed description told from outside rather than introspection keeps the characters distant and doesn't allow the reader the experience of deeply delving into their world. I found myself skimming over long passages of description to get to the meat of the plot (in particular, the graphic depiction of multiple autopsies. Medical procedures are not something that holds my interest and the plot lost momentum for me during those scenes.)
Though most of the puzzle falls into place at the end, albeit to make a creepy and disturbing picture. There is one GAPING, HUGE, GRAND-CANYON-SIZED piece missing from smack in the center.
Which I assume is the author setting up for a series but I can tell you my kindle almost went flying when I keep clicking that next button and there was no next.